Prostate cancer drug U-turn welcomed
NICE is now recommending abiraterone (Zytiga) for some men with prostate cancer in England and Wales after getting a new NHS deal from the manufacturer
Editor's note - 14th August 2012 -- The Scottish Medicines Consortium has now accepted abiraterone for restricted use within NHS Scotland.
16th May 2012 - There was disappointment from cancer charities when NICE said it was planning to reject abiraterone (Zytiga) for prostate cancer; now the regulator has changed its mind.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) now says abiraterone is an effective treatment for some men, potentially extending life by more than three months, and it also allows patients to be treated at home as it can be taken orally.
Cancer Research UK which helped fund the discovery and early development of abiraterone says it is "wonderful news", offering men whose prostate cancer has come back after chemotherapy extra months of life.
The guidance from NICE is for England and Wales. The current position of the Scottish Medicines Consortium is not to accept abiraterone for use in NHS Scotland because "the balance of costs and benefits meant the medicine was not considered to offer value for money".
NICE new draft guidance
The list price of abiraterone is £2,930 for a 30-day supply of 120 tablets. The manufacturer of abiraterone has agreed a new 'patient access scheme' with the Department of Health. In effect, this is a discount for the NHS, but the size of the discount has not been released for commercial reasons.
NICE is not recommending abiraterone for all men with prostate cancer. The guidance covers use in combination with prednisone or prednisolone for the treatment of castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer that has progressed after one docetaxel-containing therapy.
In a statement, Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE says: "During the consultation on the draft guidance Janssen, the manufacturer of the drug, submitted further information for the committee to consider. This included a revised patient access scheme which involves providing the drug to the NHS at a discounted price; further information on which patients would benefit most and clarification on how many patients could receive the drug. These factors enabled the committee to revise its preliminary recommendation and now recommend the drug for use on the NHS."
Reacting to the NICE draft guidance, Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, says in a statement: "This is wonderful news for patients with advanced prostate cancer and, in part, this U turn is down to the public's disappointment at the initial refusal.
"People's donations have allowed Cancer Research UK to fund the discovery and early development of abiraterone - now they've also helped to ensure prostate cancer patients get access to this important treatment by making their voices heard."
The charity says the delay in recommending the treatment created "unnecessary anxiety and confusion for many".
Dr Kumar says: "Patients must get access to the most effective cancer treatments quickly. The government needs to push on with its 'early access' scheme, so patients can have treatments with exceptional early trial results sooner. And the pharmaceutical industry needs to price in a realistic way, based on the potential benefit of the treatment."